to Shang-Ti. But unfortunately even at that early period worship was offered to others besides God, for the historian adds that the Emperor also 'sacrificed with purity and reverence to the six honoured ones, offered appropriate sacrifices to the hills and rivers, and extended his worship to the host of spirits.' Thus we see that in China, as in other lands, the earliest form of religion was higher and purer than it has since become. Probably Shang-Ti alone was worshipped at one time, though the worship of spirits, demons, and deceased ancestors very early corrupted the purity of religion and led men astray from God. At the present time God (Shang-Ti) is worshipped only by the Emperor of China, and that only on rare occasions. He offers sacrifice to God on a round hillock to the south of Peking, on an altar called 'The Altar of Heaven'. The offerings consist of animals of the kinds that the ancient Chinese used for food and of those kinds of the fruits of the earth which were known to them. Of these a whole burnt sacrifice is offered upon this altar by the Emperor every year, on the night of the winter solstice. As the Emperor is the head of the State and its representative, he is also high priest, and one of his titles is 'Son of Heaven'. The word 'Heaven' (T'ien تهيئين) is here, as frequently in ancient Chinese, used instead of 'God', though there is proof that originally Shang-Ti was styled 'Ruler of Heaven and Earth',

1 Douglas, pp. 11-12.

and that, therefore, men had already begun to forget Him when they gradually ceased to use His name and to employ the word 'Heaven' instead.

At this sacrifice a wooden tablet in a kind of tabernacle represents the abode of Shang-Ti. It stands on the altar. Worship is also offered at the same time to the souls of deceased Emperors, to the sun, moon, the pleiades, the five planets, the twenty-eight stations of the moon (signs of the lunar zodiac), the stars in general, the heavenly spirits (that is to say the god of the clouds, the rain-god, and the gods of wind and thunder). At other seasons of the year sacrifices are yearly offered by the Emperor to heaven and to the earth.

Ta'oism teaches that man is under the absolute control of nature. Hence, if in any way his conduct is opposed to nature, a conflict arises in which man must be overcome. Obedience to the book Yih King is the way of happiness; but that book is so ancient that few can understand its dark sayings. To find out what is pleasing to nature, divination is used, dreams are interpreted, and the spirits of the dead are consulted by the Ta'oist priests. Lucky and unlucky days are observed. The planet Jupiter is believed to direct men's path (ta'o). Ta'oism aims at producing harmony between men and the many gods and spirits whom they worship. It teaches that man's nature was originally good. The four chief virtues are, according to this religion, philanthropy, uprightness, the observance of